Cert – 15, Run-time – 2 hours 10 minutes, Director – Jordan Peele
After believing they’ve sighted an alien spaceship siblings Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) become fixated with trying to capture recorded proof.
The third act of Jordan Peele’s Nope may just be one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in a long time. It seems fitting for a film all about our obsession with spectacle. It’s a tense hybrid of action and horror as everything has built up to this point. A barrelling sequence which continues to expand and grip you within the unpredictable course which it takes. One thing naturally moving on from the last before moving to the next in what feels like an effortless flow, culminating in a grand spectacle piece of filmmaking that fits right in with the major summer blockbusters.
To some extent it’s just what siblings Emerald (an Oscar-worthy Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) have been looking for in trying to catch recorded proof that there is an alien spaceship lurking in the clouds above their ranch – where they raise horses for use in films, surrounded by the “smell of horse sh!t and fresh air” . However, it’s a task which is much easier said than done as the job becomes more and more dangerous with various attacks from the ship on the pair and their home ranch. Yet, they power through with funds currently tight – OJ has been selling horses, which he hopes to eventually get back, to local wild-west-themed amusement park owner, and former child actor, ‘Jupe’ (Steven Yeun) – and the hope of raising potential thousands of dollars with real footage of an alien encounter., and perhaps the chance of an interview with Oprah.
As they buy new cameras and attempt to find ways of capturing footage, with the help of tech store worker Angel (Brandon Perea), the stakes continuously raise alongside the tension. Initially Peele’s subtlety brings early anxiety as you’re already worried with little having been shown at these early stages. But, as things progress and Peele utilises both night and day – scenes of clear horror set at night manage to avoid feeling like they hold the cliché of being set in the dark/ at night – the fear factor grows allowing for more tension to be brought into the mix, alongside some genuine scares and terror in one particularly loud and claustrophobic extended moment. All while never forgetting the occasional mild chuckle here and there, pushing a more natural feel to events and the characters.
There’s clear attention to detail throughout. Not just when it comes to the spectacle and interactions with the UFO but in the quieter moments of build-up too. Strong efforts have been put into the look – the cinematography throughout is excellent – sound and general design of the piece. Bringing you into the dusty plains early on and keeping you in place for the fast-paced ride (the film certainly feels nowhere near it’s 130 minute run-time). Peele doesn’t create mystery around the giant craft, we know it’s there as much as the characters do, yet there’s a sinister mysticism to his direction here – the strongest of his three films so far. When you add in the strong leading cast, particularly the excellent Palmer and Kaluuya – both of whom are on top form – there’s an ease of engagement with the film as you’re kept in place throughout and simply allowed to take part in the fear, action, thrills and growing spectacle. All culminating in a stunning third act which finely blends a selection of the genres on display throughout the film and will surely be one of the greatest sequences and efforts put on the big screen all year.
Jordan Peele brings his best directorial game so far for the brilliantly crafted growing spectacle of Nope. Finely blending growing action and fear it builds up for an excellent third act which commands the screen as much as the fantastic performances of Palmer and Kaluuya.